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Nerdlocker Artist Interview: Heather Sinn

I recently had the great honor to chat with artist, tattoo artist, model, cat lover, zombie lover, and all-around awesome chick Heather Sinn. Heather grew up in a small town in Michigan but now finds herself co-owner of her own tattoo shop (along with another female tattoo artist, Danielle Oberosler) in Simi Valley, California. I have to admit, even though I have quite a few tattoos, I always feel nervous talking to tattoo artists because I worry that they’ll see through my feigned cool exterior and see the true nerd in me. Luckily, as with most of my other encounters, I learned that Heather and I are a lot alike, and that we share most of the same nerdy interests. Not to mention she seems to be one of the sweetest people I’ve met in a long time. So read on and get to know a little bit about Heather Sinn.

Nerdlocker (NL): Your tattoo work seems to vary through all kinds of styles: traditional, black-and-grey, Japanese, portraits, and more. Most artists will dabble in two or three but you seem to master each one. Do you have a favorite style?

Heather Sinn (HS): I really love working with color, but I love certain black-and-grey tattoos as well. I guess I don’t have just one style that I am married to at the moment.

NL: What’s the secret to doing good portrait work? It seems that of all the styles that one has the highest chance of just not coming out right.

HS: Portraits are very precise so if you move the lip or eye just slightly it won’t look the person in the photo that you are working from, so you have to really concentrate when you are doing a portrait.

NL: In any style, your work is incredibly clean. Do you think it’s because you’re an artist first? Or is it the way you tattoo or the products you choose to use?

HS: Thank you! I am an artist first and I believe that it is the main reason why my work looks good, but equipment and supplies definitely play a part as well.

NL: Is there a place on the body that you won’t tattoo?

HS: I will not tattoo genitalia! I don’t ever need to get that intimate with my clients!

NL: Many people don’t understand all the work that goes into being a great artist; not only do you have to have talent, but you have to know the right needle size/quantity for the right piece, the best brand of ink, and more. Where did you learn most of what you know, and what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

HS: I became an apprentice to a master tattoo artist to learn and hone my skills. It’s a one-on-one situation so you really learn a lot. I can’t tell you the best advice I ever received because it’s a trade secret!

NL: What’s the hardest part about being a tattoo artist?

HS: Well obviously you have no eraser so you cannot make a single mistake!

NL: What’s the most rewarding part about being a tattoo artist?

HS: I think that when someone comes in after having a bad experience at another shop and then they change their attitude about it when they leave my shop because they are happy with the new tattoo, that makes me feel really good!

NL: What’s one of your favorite pieces that you’ve tattooed on someone else?

HS: I love the Bela Lugosi portrait! It’s one of my favorites for sure. But there are so many that I really love!

NL: What’s one of your favorite pieces on your own body, and who did it?

HS: My favorite tattoo on my body is my cat geisha, it is a portrait of my beloved cat, Peace. She passed away several years ago. She is wearing a kimono and there are bats flying around her. It’s really beautiful. It was done by Bill Canales.

NL: What was the first tattoo you ever got, and the first paying tattoo you ever did?

HS: My first tattoo was my astrological symbol on my ankle and the first paying tattoo I ever did was a rose.

NL: There is a difference between people who tattoo, and tattoo artists. What’s your best advice for someone to weed through the muck and find the true artists?

HS: My best advice for someone looking to get a nice tattoo would be to do your homework and look at portfolios. See who you gravitate to based on the artist’s style and personality.

NL: Did you find the transition from being an artist to being a tattoo artist difficult?

HS: It was not a difficult transition for me from drawing to tattooing. I think it makes it easier when you have drawing skills.

NL: Do you ever tattoo your own original art on someone?

HS: I do it all the time!

NL: Is there something you wish you could put on someone but no one has been brave enough for it yet?

HS: Nope!

NL: If someone doesn’t have any tattoos but is interested in getting one/more, what advice would you give them?

HS: Just be sure you know what you want because it will be there forever!

NL: I always find it interesting what artists have hanging on their own walls – what’s on your walls?

HS: I have several of my own paintings along with other work from artists I admire. I also have a collection of masks and horror memorabilia.

NL: I read about your time on the reality competition show Ink Master and it sounds horrible. Aside from being able to talk about what bullshit it was, has anything else good come from that experience? Is there anything you still want to get off your chest about it?

HS: Ahhh yes, Ink Master…what an experience! It was like living in a nightmare that I could not wake up from! I signed a mountain of contracts so I could not get out of there. I had no idea what I was in for when I said I’d participate. No one would ever tattoo under that kind of pressure in real life and no one ever should! The real truth is that they never let us get any rest and we had only one day off in three weeks! And the way they edit everything is so out of context it just makes us look bad. I did the show to bring clients to my new shop and so far I have gotten a few, so hopefully people that watch the show will take the time to check out my two websites (www.theartofheathersinn.com and www.thetattooroom.com) and see my work!

NL: Congrats on having your own shop. I think it’s great to see more female tattoo artists make it in such a male-dominated industry. What’s the wait list like at your shop?

HS: Actually it’s not too bad right now! I am new to Simi Valley so I have to build up my client list. Only about a two-week wait!

NL: Now on to the nerdier questions: what are some of your favorite movies, video games and TV shows? I give you the choice of multiple answers because most people find it hard to pick just one.

HS: I love old horror films! Zombie, The Exorcist, Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, too many to count! For the record…Woman in Black was really good! And as far as TV shows I watch True Blood, The Walking Dead, Dexter, American Dad, Family Guy, Futurama, Adult Swim, Invader Zim and I was really into American Horror Story. I am not a gamer, but my true love is anime! I adore Miyazaki films! I have a huge collection of anime. Some of my favorites are Bleach, Basilisk, Samurai Gun, Shikabane Hime, Xamped. High School of the Dead, Evangelion, Gurren Lagann and Ghost Hound. Also Mega 64 is the shit!!!

Possibly Heather's superhero outfit?

NL: Star Wars or Star Trek?

HS: Star Wars!

NL: If you were a superhero, what would your outfit look like? Feel free to describe what you own if you already have one.

HS: Well I never really thought about being a superhero but it would have to be something gothic and definitely black! Batman had it going on! 😀

NL: What’s your weapon of choice for the zombie apocalypse?

HS: An Uzi and an Uzi pistol!!!!

NL: Speaking of zombies, what’s your favorite zombie movie? Also what do you think of the second season of The Walking Dead so far?

HS: My favorite zombie movie is still ZOMBIE! There is a zombie fighting a shark in that movie and there was no CG back then! SOOOO GOOOD. I wasn’t sold on The Walking Dead at first then I got sucked into the story when the loner redneck started growing a heart. I saw that actor at my favorite lunch spot too, ha ha!

NL: What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever been asked to tattoo?

It looks like Heather has already been through one zombie apocalypse.

HS: That’s easy! I am doing a whole Evangelion sleeve on my best friend Garrett Hunter from Mega 64! Did I mention Mega 64 rules?

NL: Do you have any nerdy tattoos?

HS: Honestly I do not! But I will be getting an anime inspired Tattoo someday, maybe a tree spirit or a soot sprite!

NL: What’s a nerdy secret that our readers should know about you?

HS: I think I have already put it out there that I am a closet nerd! Except the gaming part! That’s just cause I don’t have the patience to learn how to use the controller LOL!

So now you have met Heather Sinn. You can see more pictures from her portfolios (both in tattoing and modeling) on either of her websites (www.theartofheathersinn.com and www.thetattooroom.com). And if you happen to be headed out to Simi Valley sometime in the near future, hit me up so we can go get some badass nerdy ink together.